Dowry issue in India

Dowry issue in India


This article deals with Dowry issue in India.


Note – This article is part of our series on Society for UPSC. For more articles, click here.


What is Dowry?

  • Dowry =  payment in cash or  kind to a bridegroom’s family at marriage
  • Dowry Death  = When young women are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry.



Reasons :

  • Part of Indian culture => Exclusion of women from workforce especially those belonging to higher caste necessitate this
  • Increasing   consumerism – people see dowry as avenue to fulfil their  impossible dreams.

For some people, paying dowry at their daughter’s marriage is an investment  for  fetching high  dowry through    their son’s  marriage.


New Trend : Earlier only upper castes indulged in dowry but now lower castes are imitating higher castes in this. This is process of Sanskritisation at play

Effects of Dowry System

  • Domestic Violence : women harassed & tortured
  • Imbalance in sex ratio: Daughters  seen as financial burden => female infanticide & foeticide
  • Against Constitutional Spirit of Equality and Justice => violation of Fundamental Rights of women and their parents
  • Impact on children‘s personality 
  • Detrimental for Indian image at global level + Against CEDAW  (Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) ratified by India 



Provisions to Prohibit  Dowry

Dowry Prohibition Act 1961

  • Asking & giving Dowry punishable by 6 months
  • Issue –  “Dowry” is defined as a gift demanded or given as a condition for marriage. Gifts given without condition are not considered dowry, and are legal.
  • Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine


Section 304 B of IPC

  • deals with dowry death related cases.
  • imprisonment of 7 years to life term.


Section 498 A of IPC

  • Dowry related cases are non bailable and non compoundable.


Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA)



  • Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)




How to end dowry

  • Attitudinal Change   => Use Peer Pressure
  • Amend Section 406 and 498A of IPC  as suggested by Malimath Committee.
  • Strict   enforcement  of  laws  + Dowry related cases should be fast tracked.
  • Government should promote “Adarsh Marriage” & ” Mass Marriage”




Side Topic : Issues with provisions of IPC

  • IPC Section 406  don’t clearly demarcates boundary between dowry & Streedhan. This has been misused in demanding dowry. (Justice Malimath Committee)
  • Section 498 A of IPC is problematic
Problems with Section 406
  • Husband or his family members are presumed to be guilty till they prove their innocence  => Misused by Women
  • Non-compoundable (cant compromise while case is going) and non-bailable => According to Justice Malimath Committee , it kills any effort of Conciliation


July 2017 Judgement Rajesh Sharma v State of UP

  • SC accepted – Section 498A of the IPC is misused
  • As safeguard –
        • Set up of 3 membered ‘family welfare committees’ in all districts.  Every complaint will be looked into by Committee within month & no arrest can be made till that.
        • Automatic assumption of guilt has been seen as a problem


Problem :

  • 1 month period too long – make women vulnerable
  • NRI husbands can abscond





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